South Jersey officials recruiting workers for U.S. Census

Brochures available at Census recruitment event in Camden County. (Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

Brochures available at Census recruitment event in Camden County. (Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

Bernice McClain, of Lindenwold, is enjoying retirement.

“I don’t watch the clock,” she said. “The clock watches me.”

But now the former caseworker is applying for a job with the U.S. Census.

“I still enjoy talking to people and working with people. And like I said, I’m retired. Extra money,” she added.

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McClain was one of many people who took part in census job fairs in Camden County on Thursday, where residents could apply to be census takers.

Although the 2020 Census will allow residents to fill out the survey online, the federal government will still need temporary employees to call or visit the homes of residents who do not respond.

Officials said census takers would be critical in ensuring that every person living in New Jersey is counted in the survey, which is used to steer federal funding and determine representation in Congress.

Camden County officials say good local hires are essential to getting an accurate count. (Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

“If you want your kids to go to school and have good books, make sure you’re there. If you want your roads fixed, make sure you’re there,” said Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez. “This count will impact you for the next ten years.”

For many, being a census taker is an ideal job. The hours are flexible, census takers can work from home, and the pay is competitive.

Census takers in Camden County make $17.50 per hour — well above the state minimum wage — plus mileage and tolls.

“A lot of places, the wages are stagnant. It’s terrible,” said Mount Ephraim resident Christopher Nero, who applied to be a census taker after struggling to find a job that pays well. “I feel like they were talking about a $15 minimum wage. I feel like that’s legitimate, but it’s not always easy to even come close to that.”

Census takers are expected to start work in March and continue for several months.

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